Ukrainian filmmaker on 87th day of hunger strike in Russian prison writes that “end is near”

The Ukrainian filmmaker is one of the circa 70 Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin 

More, Political prisoners

Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian filmmaker Russia sentenced to 20 years for unproven “terrorism” on hunger strike since 14 May 2018, has sent a letter depicting his state to his cousin Nataliya Kaplan.

Nataliya got it from Sentsov’s lawyer, as letters are not reaching him recently.

Here is what she wrote about it.

“Everything is not just bad, it’s catastrophically bad. The lawyer has passed me a letter from Oleg, he almost never gets up. He wrote that the end is close and he doesn’t mean his release. He is wondering whether someone pays attention to his hunger strike as he doesn’t know because he doesn’t receive any letters at all! He says that he lives in an information vacuum and has no clue what is going on around.

The European Court of Human Rights is insisting on Oleg’s transfer to a public hospital, closer to the place of his residence. Oleg has refused and says that he will not be able to survive the transfer. At the same time he says that the staff at the public hospital of Labytnanga where he has been admitted to the intensive care before, brutalized him even more than the staff of the prison’s hospital did.

This is Russia, babe… and I have no clue what else can be done to get Oleg out from the prison..everything is so bad.”

Yesterday, Sentsov’s lawyer Dmitry Dinze told that Sentsov’s pulse has fallen to 40, his haemoglobin level is very low, and that he has anemia.

Sentsov launched the termless hunger strike on 14 May, demanding to free the Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin, who, like he himself, had been sentenced by Russia for political reasons. There are circa 70 such prisoners. Recently, Sentsov confirmed in a letter that he will not stop his hunger strike.

Oleg Sentsov, a native of Crimea, was arrested on 11 May 2014 shortly after the Russian occupation of Crimea. Together with three other Crimeans, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Gennadiy Afanasyev, and Oleksiy Chirniy, he was accused of “plotting acts of terrorism” and being part of the Right Sector, a far-right Ukrainian organization Russia outlawed. These accusations are based entirely on testimonies of Gennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chirniy.  Both Afanasiev and Chirniy have stated they were tortured by FSB, and after their “confessions” were sentenced to the least possible punishment for terrorism, 7 years of jail, whereas Sentsov, the “leader” of the “terrorist group,” was sentenced to 20 years and Kolchenko to 10 years. On 31 July 2015 Afanasyev retracted his testimony as given under duress. After that, he was beaten again in prison. Sentsov and Kolchenko have stated repeatedly that they were tortured and beaten, and there is nothing to assume that the same didn’t happen to Chirniy.

The trial being entirely based on forced testimonies, the alleged plot to blow up Lenin’s monument in Simferopol, Crimea which the prisoners are accused of, and the convoluted connection to Right Sector speak of a return of Stalinist show trials in Russia, according to Russian and Ukrainian human rights watchdogs.

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